Gov. Pat Quinn signs the new liquor law at Maya Del Sol in Oak Park with Oak Park president-elect Anan Abu-Taleb and state Sen. Don Harmon. Courtesy John E. Burkowski

Gov. Pat Quinn came to a packed Maya del Sol Sunday evening to sign the state law which could clear the way for the Oak Park village board to decide Monday night to sync the local liquor ordinance with the revised state law and open a path for Anan Abu-Taleb, village president-elect, to take office without controversy.

While it is unclear what the current village board will do Monday, on Sunday evening Quinn lauded State Senator Don Harmon for his quick work in sponsoring the change to state law. The governor, who lived for many years in Oak Park, touted Oak Park’s grassroots democracy and the election of Abu-Taleb, Maya’s owner, on April 9.

With many active supporters on hand — and a larger number of surprised diners on the restaurant’s patio watching the governor sign the bill – Abu-Taleb spoke briefly and with emotion. Born and raised on the Gaza Strip, he talked about his father who lived until he was 95 years old and “never had a day of freedom. And now I am an elected official,” Abu-Taleb said before tears overtook him.

To make the moment still more poignant, Abu-Taleb’s elderly mother came forward along with his wife and sons to pose for pictures with the governor and Harmon.

Beyond campaign backers, the crowd was dotted with notable elected officials including Trustee Adam Salzman, Village Clerk Teresa Powell and incoming village trustee Peter Barber.

A vote Monday evening in the affirmative by the current village board would allow Abu-Taleb to take office without a conflict of interest between being designated by local law as the liquor commissioner while that law currently bars elected officials from holding an Oak Park liquor license. Four votes would be required to pass the local ordinance change.

Another option would be for the current board to suspend the rule of the current ordinance for a set period of time – 90 days has been suggested – while the liquor ordinance is referred to the liquor control review board for study.

After the current board votes on the liquor issue, the Monday meeting will shift gears, moving into the traditional handing over of power from one board to another. Village President David Pope will leave office as Abu-Taleb is sworn in as president. John Hedges will leave his position as trustee having lost his bid for village president. Current trustees Glen Brewer and Colette Lueck and Village Clerk Powell will be sworn in for new terms in office. And newly elected Peter Barber, a veteran of the District 97 school board, will join the village board.

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